Ask Darlene about…. Backyard gardening in the Fall.

Backyard gardening in the Fall.

Hi Darlene, I need information on what I can plant during the fall. When the pandemic/quarantine started I started small, herbs in pots and some flowers around my front yard to spruce it up. I have a small patch in the back yard that I wanted to use to plant vegetables but it got too hot here to continue cleaning it out and it has sat for the past month. Now that the weather is getting cooler I thought I would try fall flowers and/or vegetables. Any ideas on what I can plant? Flowers and vegetables? Ones that will do well in partial sun/shade would be best. Thanks, Christine

Hi Christine,

Congratulations on being the first to “Ask Darlene”. I am excited to share some ideas for your garden.

First, great job on getting started.  Pandemic gardening has become a type of therapy for many.  Even better, you get to eat and enjoy what you grow.

Dried bunches of lavender will remind you of your garden.

The herbs are a great idea for summer.  You may want to consider taking a few small plants inside for the winter to have a fresh selection all year round.  Cute smaller pots make great decorations.  You can even dry some for decorating later in the fall. Check out my link for a project ideas.

Heading out to your small patch in the backyard that didn’t quite make it to vegetable garden status.  It’s ok it happens to everyone. It takes a long time to get the mix right and every year it will change.  If it’s too hot you may want to try to set a time for 30 minutes in the early or late hours of the day so you don’t melt out there while doing the cleaning.  You can use a beach umbrella to give you a little shade at other times.  I also soak my baseball hat in cold water before heading out to make the heat bearable.  That’s how I survived gardening in Florida without passing out. 

Now let’s talk about fall flowers and vegetables.  It’s a little late in the season to grow from seed. You might be able to score some discounted vegetable plants at your local garden center, check the back of the store or sale racks up front.  See if you can find pumpkins or Brussel sprouts.  Pumpkins take over everything, so plan ahead.

Check out sale racks at the supermarket for fall favorites.

The mighty Brussel sprout plant grows to about 2′ tall with a strong stalk that puts out large green leaves and the sprouts grow out of the main stalk.  They look awesome anywhere.  I have a few in my front yard and no one can figure out what they are doing there.   They will last until November, even here in Colorado.

Brussel sprout plant
Brussel sprout is hidden in the front row of the garden.

Carrots, much to my surprise also seem to grow into the cold weather.  This year I even found some sprouting up during the winter.  A small seed packet gives you a bunch to start with.  See my post on beets for more information that also applies to carrots.  Remember to plant seeds in groups a week or 2 apart so you have a continuous selection.

Freshly harvested rainbow carrots.
Freshly harvested rainbow carrots.

Ornamental Kale is also very pretty this time of year.  You can find it in green, purple, and maybe a little bit of white mixed in some of them. 

bunches of potted ornamental kale in glasshouse
Ornamental Kale plants. Photo by Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng on

Mums are also very popular this time of year. Costco had huge(about 2-3’ tall) plants for around $15 on my last visit.  Here’s a secret amount this pretty affordable flower.  They come back, again and again.  Their shape is a little different some are smaller, and it spreads like a weed.  As a #salvagegardener I think this is a benefit.  If it’s going to drive you crazy to not have control of the mum spread, you can dig a hole and place the planter in the ground.  Once it’s frozen or cold damaged, just lift the pot and trash the plants.  Be sure to save the extra containers to use for new planting or cover plants in case of a late cold snap in the spring.

Photo and article about planting garden mums

Thanks for your question.  Keep me posted and please share some pictures.

Thanks for sharing your dirt!